Nanotechnology, is the development and production of artefacts in which a dimension of less than 100 nanometres (nm) is critical to functioning (1 nm = 10-9 m/40 billionths of an inch) (atom 0.1 nm, DNA (width) 2nm, Protein 5 - 50nm, virus 75-100nm, bacteria 1,000 - 10,000nm, white blood cells 10,000nm) Nanotechnology holds out the promise of materials of precisely specified composition and properties, which could yield structures of unprecedented strength and computers of extraordinary compactness and power. Nanotechnology may lead to revolutionary methods of atom-by-atom manufacturing and to surgery on the cellular scale.
The Islamic ruling on all objects is that in origin they are all permissible. The study, research and development of such objects is permitted and allowed for all Muslims to undertake. Its use and the manner in which it can be deployed is restricted, therefore the uses of Nanotechnology would require an evidence for it to be used in a specific manner. It would not be permissible to use Nanotechnology to create objects and material where the domestic population could be spied upon as this is something Islam condemned. However Islam has made it obligatory for the Khilafah to have industry in order for machines and heavy industrial goods to be produced. This is for defence purposes. For this endeavour the Khilafah can produce all the latest weaponry (conventional, biological, nuclear or chemical) for deterrent purposes. It is not allowed to wipe out the enemy by using Nanotechnology as well as by any other technology.
In summary, Nanotechnology is perfectly permissible in many areas including, but not specific to, the areas of medicine and biology as well as optics and aeronautics.
“Do not kill yourselves.” (TMQ Surah An-Nisa: 29).
The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “Get married to the tender and fertile (women) for indeed I will vie in your great numbers.” [Reported by Abu Dawud]
Qatada narrated from al-Hasan who narrated from Samurah that he said ‘The Prophet (sallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) forbade us from celibacy’ (reported by Ahmad)
1. From the above evidences we can deduce that stem cells derived from early embryos, which are no longer needed for infertility treatment (‘spare embryos’) from the Shari’ah point of view is allowed.
2. IVF, as a means to aid fertilisation between a husband and wife, is allowed according to the numerous evidences (including the above) that recommend Muslims to marry and reproduce. The nature of the IVF process is that embryos will be formed that will not be needed for placement in the woman’s womb. These can be utilised for the purpose of producing stem cells.
3. We also understand that the use of adult tissues to produce stem cells is allowed if a living person gave their consent. This is because the person has a legal authority over their organs in Islam. From the Shari’ah point of view each individual has the final say over their organs during their lives and has the right to make decisions regarding them. Hence, one can donate his organ to somebody else who needs it. However, for a donor to donate an organ the organ should not be vital for his own life. This is derived from the ayah in surah an-Nisa.
4. Not only does Islam allow stem cell research, but it could potentially throw the field wide open. The present model of using supernumerary embryos has met with limited success in producing embryonic stem cell lines. Present research, though not conclusive, is suggesting that higher quality embryos such as blastocysts lead to a higher efficiency of embryonic stem cell production (Cowan et al, 2004). Blastocysts are the collection of cells that are in the next developmental stage from the embryo. From an Islamic jurisprudential perspective it is acceptable to use foeti up to the age of 42 days for stem cell extraction and hence the potential exists for the highly refined production of stem cells. Islam has laid down clear boundaries to demarcate what is allowed and what is not via the Shari’ah. Stem cells can be used from live adults, umbilical cords, IVF embryos and aborted foeti under 42 days gestation. They cannot be extracted through human cloning, dead human tissue and foeti above 42 days.
“And that He (Allah) created the pairs, male and female. From Nutfah (drops of semen – male and female discharges) when it is emitted.” (TMQ Surah An-Najm: 45-46)
“Was he not a Nutfah (drops of semen) poured forth? Then he became a clot; then (Allah) shaped and fashioned (him) in due proportion. And made him in two sexes, male and female.” (TMQ Surah Al-Qiyamah: 37-39)
The Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) said: “For every disease Allah created its cure.” (Reported by Bukhari)
1. From these evidences we understand that the production of children via cloning is different from the natural way that Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta’ala) has made humans to reproduce their offspring.
2. We also understand that the children who are born out of cloning females, without a male, have no fathers. In addition, they will not have mothers if the egg that was merged with the nucleus of the cell was placed in the womb of a female different from that female whose egg was used in the cloning process. This is the case because the female whose womb was used to implant the egg is no more than a place to house the egg. This will lead to the loss of that human, where he has no father and no mother.
3. We also understand that there will be a loss of kinship. Islam has obligated preserving affinity and maintaining it. The cloning which aims at producing people who are outstanding in terms of their intelligence, strength, health, and beauty would mean choosing the people with characteristics among the males and the females regardless of if they were married couples or not. As a result, the cells would be taken from the males who had the required characteristics, and the eggs would be taken from selected women and implanted in selected women. This would lead to the kinship being lost and mixed.
4. The production of children through cloning prevents applying many of the Shari’ah rules, such as the rules of marriage, kinship, alimony, fatherhood, inheritance, custody, maharim (people forbidden for marriage due to blood relationship e.g. mother, sister etc.) in addition to many other Shari’ah rules. The affinity would get mixed and would be lost. This goes against the natural way that Islam views reproduction.
5. We also understand that cloning plants and animals can improve quality and increase productivity and aid in finding cures for many common human diseases. The improvement in the quality of plants and animals and the increase of productivity is not prohibited from a Shari’ah perspective, and it is among the things that are allowed. Also, the use of plants and animal cloning to cure human diseases, especially acute ones, is allowed in Islam. It is even recommended because seeking a cure for illness is recommended and manufacturing medicine for curing is recommended. Therefore, it is allowed to use the cloning process to improve the quality of plants and to increase their productivity. It is also allowed to use the cloning process to improve the quality of cows, sheep, camels, horses, and other animals, in order to increase productivity of these animals and to increase their numbers, and to utilise this to cure many of the human diseases especially the acute ones. Thus cloning plants and animals is permitted from Islam.
6. Foetal cloning is where the zygote is formed in the womb of a wife as a result of the husband’s sperm and the wife’s egg. That zygote is divided into many cells, which can divide and grow. These cells are divided so that each cell becomes a foetus by itself, as a duplicate of the original zygote. If one or more of these zygotes were implanted in the wife’s womb (who was the source of the original cell) then this form of cloning is permitted because it is the multiplying of the zygote, which existed in the wife’s womb through a medical procedure to bring about identical twins. However apart from this we understand human cloning is not permitted in Islam.
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